Morning all. Thanks to a real-estate-boom-fueled capital spending spree, the District now boasts many new jewels of public infrastructure—-schools and pools and ballfields and rec centers. Tim Craig a damned-if-you-do question in WaPo: In a time of fiscal restraint, can the city afford to maintain these gems? Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, he writes, ‘has scored political points with his recreational generosity at a time when many big-city mayors are struggling with public anger over spending cuts. But the projects are not cheap for taxpayers….Fenty is up for reelection next year, and the pace of his ribbon-cuttings for new or renovated play areas and fields—-recently he has averaged about two a week—-is prompting debate about whether the District can afford the upkeep on its investments.’ Among the doubters: Kwame Brown.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Fenty lays down a line-item veto (again); D.C. wants you to get tested for HIV; another DYRS ward is accused of murder; cop shot with own gun; arrest made in Pizza Mart murder; Pepco throws down on People’s Counsel; complete ‘Co Hi Day’ cupcake coverage.
Fenty has once again wielded his line-item veto, axing (you guessed it) the State Board of Education autonomy piece of the lean-and-mean District budget passed last month. Michael Neibauer‘s Examiner piece notes that the ‘budget language does not give the state board new powers, only the authority to make its own spending and hiring decisions’ and quotes SBOE Prez Lisa Raymond saying that ‘no other place in this entire country is that the case, in which an elected body is reporting to an appointee.’ Hizzoner says in letter that the move ‘weakens the established school governance structure and threatens to take the District’s education reform efforts backward.’ Yes, Fenty already did this, but the council had to redo the budget due to declining revenue. So here we are!
In a Friday news conference, Fenty announces some agency shuffles. Most notable: Tom Hampton is out as DISB commissioner, replaced by his deputy Gennet Purcell, 35—-who happens to be a Howard Law grad like Hizzoner and Ms. Fenty. After the presser, Fenty said he’s known Purcell ‘for some time’ and vouches for her expertise based on her service as deputy. Also: DMPED vet Jamison Weinbaum takes the helm of the zoning office, and acting disability rights chief Derek Orr, and his sweet soul patch, get the permanent nod. Nikita Stewart covers for D.C. Wire.
The District launches a new multimedia HIV testing campaign. Writes Darryl Fears in WaPo: ‘The campaign, “D.C. Takes On HIV,” includes a new Web site, http://www.dctakesonhiv.com, which features a television ad, “Ask for the Test.” The ad, which will air on the Comcast cable network and radio outlets such as WHUR (93.6 FM) and the Radio One network, and the Web site are part of the $225,000 first phase of the campaign, officials said…..The ad was designed to touch on all the challenges of stopping AIDS in the District except one, addicts using dirty needles. Gay black men lead the percentage of people who contract the disease. Latinos are the second most threatened minority group, and risky heterosexual sex threatens to expand infection to pandemic levels if it isn’t checked, officials said.’ Also WAMU-FM, and WTTG-TV covers the high school (non-HIV) STD testing program.
ALSO—-WaPo’s Martin Ricard covers efforts by Marion Barry and other councilmembers to institute mandatory HIV testing for D.C. Jail inmates. ‘The District administers voluntary HIV tests to all inmates upon admission, although they can opt out….Barry’s bill mandates collecting blood samples from inmates, including those convicted of a sex crime, upon entrance to a D.C. jail. It also calls for providing counseling services after the test. The bill has been stalled in committee since July, but Barry said it is necessary because of the District’s alarming HIV rate.’ Opposing the measure: D.C. Appleseed, the Department of Corrections, and the HIV/AIDS Administration. Ninety-nine percent of inmates consent to the test.
WaPo (finally) runs a full story on the Fenty DCPS enrollment questions, mainly pegged to Michelle Rhee‘s Friday admission on WTOP radio that ‘no rules were broken’ in the process of admitting Fenty’s sons to Lafayette Elementary. The only bit of news: ‘School sources familiar with the enrollment process, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to comment on it, said Fenty did not participate in the lottery.’ WJLA-TV does Friday story on the controversy. One blogger defends the move.
Colby King discovers that Cornell Scrivner, 18—-arrested in the May murder of Demetrius Matthews in Eckington—-was under DYRS supervision when the crime took place. ‘Public safety in the nation’s capital, say law enforcement and court officials, is being sacrificed on the altar of an ideological bias against detention. And they point to DYRS. The Matthews homicide may be an example….The agency’s grand experiment with young offenders and public safety warrants a full-scale investigation. Unfortunately, the mayor couldn’t care less, and D.C. Council oversight of DYRS is sycophantic and worthless.’
D.C. cop is shot in knee with his own gun. Officer Michael Kasco, WaPo reports, was breaking up a Rosedale dice game when a participant, Michael Grayton, 26, fled. ‘Kasco, who had drawn his handgun, chased the man and demanded that he get on the ground. The man charged Kasco, and a shot was fired as the two struggled over the weapon, police said.’ Grayton, who was found with PCP, has been charged with assaulting a police officer. Also WTOP.
In Examiner, Bill Myers points out one irony of the ongoing Pershing Park litigation: AG Peter Nickles‘ old firm, Covington & Burling, had represented many of the victims of the mass arrests. That fact has prompted plaintiffs’ attorneys to wonder if Nickles worked on the case.
ALSO FROM MYERS—-MPD lieutenant, off the streets for six years, is back on patrol in 5D. ‘On Christmas Eve 2003, [Tim Haselden] was fired following a couple of angry confrontations with his wife. The department said he was a wife-beater. Haselden appealed and an administrative law judge held that, in fact, Haselden had tried to defuse the confrontations….Nickles claimed that the false allegations against Haselden were bad enough that they had destroyed his credibility and prevented him from testifying in court.’
Employees’ union sues Fenty administration over firing of DPR child-care providers. ‘DPR representatives claimed that it was due to a $4 million deficit. However, DPR’s declaration was directly contrary to District law; as illustrated by a statement provided by the Budget Director of the D.C. City Council who stated that there were sufficient funds in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education budget to provide for the program.’ Donald Temple for the plaintiffs!
Theola Labbé-DeBose does a piece on the MPD’s ‘Biggest Loser’-style weight-loss competition. ‘[Cathy Lanier] decided one day after taking a rare early-morning jog on the Mall—-and feeling great afterward—-that the long hours and erratic schedules of police work were wreaking havoc on the health and well-being of officers and police employees, including herself. She called [Alfred Durham], her executive officer, and told him about her idea. If random Americans on television could get together and lose weight in a friendly competition, why not D.C. police? Apparently Lanier struck a nerve. Almost 800 officers and civilian police department employees signed up for the competition, which began in June and ended this month.’ ALSO: Do see Gerald Martineau‘s shot of the police brass deep in a stretch.
The city has removed the “ghost bike” memorializing cyclist Alice Swanson, WCP’s Mike Riggs was first to report. The white bike had been chained to a lamppost at Connecticut Avenue and R Street NW since Swanson was struck and killed by a trash truck last July. A new memorial has popped up in its place, complete with a sign reading, “Why has the mayor taken the bike?” Also WAMU-FM.
In Sunday WaPo, Ashley Halsey looks at the future of K Street NW: ‘There are two plans under consideration, and the decision-making is so sensitive that when almost everyone directly involved are asked which plan they favor, they react as if they’ve been asked which of their two children they like best….One plan would put a pair of bus-only lanes down the center of the street, separating them from other traffic with islands that would have sheltered bus stops….The second plan calls for three bus-only lanes….Until those details are resolved, everyone seems to be treading lightly, although the body language of the traffic engineers suggests a preference for the three-lane approach.’ ALSO: Halsey explains how the confusing current layout came to be.
Expect to see a lot more of these stories: Carol Morello in WaPo looks at the District’s preparations for the fall H1N1 flu season: ‘Urban areas such as the District, where about 100 people have been confirmed with the H1N1 virus since spring, face a distinct set of challenges. Crowds, for instance, increase the chance of getting the flu….District residents, like those of most big cities, have high rates of asthma, diabetes, HIV and obesity, all of which can increase the severity of symptoms in patients who catch the flu, whether seasonal or H1N1. Several of the diseases, including diabetes and asthma, disproportionately affect minorities.’ WTTG-TV, too.
DETAILS—-‘People with underlying conditions affecting the lungs or immune system will have priority to receive the swine flu vaccine, along with young people, pregnant women, caregivers and first responders. About 225,000 of the District’s 590,000 residents are estimated to be in priority groups….The [Department of Health] has provided N95 respirators…to health care workers at primary-care clinics throughout the city, said Beverly Pritchett, head of the emergency preparedness administration. It also has stockpiled thousands of surgical masks and doses of the antiviral medications Tamiflu and Relenza. In a flu outbreak, callers to the 311 government services number seeking information on the flu would be directed to a unit specializing in advice on the flu and the vaccines, which will be available through private physicians and mass vaccination clinics.’
Say what you will about school reform in D.C., the WaPo editorial board said on Sunday, but you gotta admit that school facilities reform is a smash. ‘It is to the credit of Mr. Fenty that he tapped the able Allen Y. Lew to head up the new Office Of Public Education Facilities Modernization….He was able to jumpstart long-stalled projects such as the Wilson Aquatic Center, while also completing more than 30 fields and playgrounds. And he has brought long-needed credibility to school maintenance, with the result that more architects and contractors are bidding on the work….Critics are right to wonder if, in the understandable rush to make fixes, money was spent as effectively as possible. With city resources now tightening, it will be important to carefully map expenditures and to ensure there will be no return to the days of deferring maintenance in a shortsighted bid to save money.’
Capitol Heights woman arrested in murder of Edgewood pizza shop proprietor. ‘Authorities say 26-year-old Shanika Robinson…was charged with first-degree murder while armed. Robinson is accused of killing 44-year-old Shahabuddin Rana of Silver Spring, whose body was found Aug. 18 inside the Pizza Mart in northeast D.C.’ WTTG-TV has scant additional details.
Body found Friday in Rock Creek near Massachusetts Avenue NW.
Will the Holocaust museum shooter actually be arraigned this week?
WRC-TV covers Foggy Bottom crime spree. ‘Although none of the incidents have taken place on campus, some of them have involved GWU students, police said. The robberies have also included large groups of people attacking a lone victim in the streets, according to officials.’
ALSO—-Leah Fabel notes in Examiner that the State Board of Education has voted to modify the city truancy policy, extending the number of unexcused absences allowed before a student’s case is passed to enforcement authorities to 25: ‘Previously, the threshold was 15 days, but officials said the policy was neither effective nor evenly enforced….”I don’t want us funneling students with non-criminal issues into the criminal justice system,” said board member Sekou Biddle, explaining that truancy often results from dysfunctional homes or educational problems. “My hope is that the new interventions now in place will address those problems first.”‘
Examiner this weekend is all over the Rock Creek Park deer problem. Michael Neibauer looks at the NPS plan to possibly sterilize or shoot the 82 white-tailed deer per square mile in the park. Harry Jaffe does pretty much the same thing, noting that ‘More than once I have seen a few deer hanging out at the bus stop at the corner of McKinley Street and 32nd Street as if they were waiting for the E-2.’ Public meeting on the plan Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Rock Creek Nature Center. WTTG-TV also covers.
Pepco keeps up its fight against the People’s Counsel, Neibauer reports in Examiner, writing that the utility is ‘demanding that D.C.’s utility consumer advocate put up or shut up about claims that large numbers of the power provider’s meters are faulty and might have been responsible for skyrocketing winter electricity bills.’
Sen. Ted Kennedy was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, after a procession from Andrews AFB via the Capitol. Michael E. Ruane covers the pomp for WaPo: ‘A group of well-wishers at the Capitol sang “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” as his hearse approached, the flag-draped coffin visible through an oval window. Along Constitution Avenue, people in shorts and bright summer clothing applauded and waved flags as his motorcade passed, and children on bicycles followed on the sidewalk. It was a heartfelt but upbeat salute—-much different from the anguished departures of his slain brothers a generation ago.’
In WaPo, Michael Birnbaum breaks down school spending among public, private, and parochial schools. According to federal education figures, he writes, non-religious private schools spend the most.
On Top mag covers Clark Ray‘s candidacy. ‘If elected, Ray would become the district’s second openly gay councilman.’ Expect a phone call from Jim Graham…
Arson suspected in small Gabon embassy fire Sunday.
Water main breaks in Riggs Park.
More from WTTG-TV on the D.C. firefighter said to be protecting her boyfriend from a murder charge by refusing to testify.
Valet permit deadline extended to Sept. 4.
WaPo’s Yamiche Alcindor covers the 2nd annual All Souls Unitarian Blessing of the Animals. And Dagny Salas covers the ‘fifth annual summertime tea for families of homicide victims’ at the Willard, organized by Anthony Motley and Valencia Mohammed.
John Kelly explains why the parking-space counters at Dulles garages are so unreliable.
Hell Burger in Adams Morgan? Not so fast.
Robert Brannum writes: ‘Without regard for the truth and lacking evidence of broad conversations with District residents about reforming District public education, the editorial board of The Washington Post has irreparably damaged its own legacy as it strips any pretense of objectivity on the issue of District public education.’
City begins rehab of C&O Canal bridges in Georgetown.
Bike racks at new Cooke ES all screwed up.
John Jay Daly, legendary PR man and local history buff, is dead at 80.
WEEKEND WRAP—-Fenty spotted yesterday with Richard Branson at Virgin Mobile FreeFest at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. And on Saturday afternoon, politicos gathered at ‘Fenty Field’ behind Tubman ES for Columbia Heights Day (or, as the official T-shirt had it, ‘Co Hi Day’—-shudder), including Phil Mendelson, David Catania, Clark Ray, and the D.C. GOP’s Paul Craney. Vince Gray was tapped to be impromptu judge of the cupcake eating contest, which featured contestants wearing Clark Ray and Kwame Brown garb, plus erstwhile council candidate and CH rez and festival organizer Patrick Mara. None had what it took to win, but Kwame staffer Bill Brown (no relation) has a good excuse: “They’re vegan,” he said fo the competition cupcakes, from Sticky Fingers Bakery.
BE A D.C. COUNCIL INTERN—-‘Calling all D.C. high school juniors and seniors! The Office of Youth Programs for the Council of the District of Columbia is seeking students in public, charter or private schools to participate in a paid Youth Internship Program beginning in October….Applications are due no later than September 4th. For more information go www.dccouncil.us/internprograms, or call 202-724-8161.’
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.